Has the Affordable Care Act Reduced Socioeconomic Disparities in Cancer Screening?

Monday, January 09, 2017
Out-of-pocket expenditures are thought to be a significant barrier to receiving cancer preventive services, especially for individuals of lower socioeconomic status. A new study looks at how the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which eliminated such out-of-pocket expenditures, has affected the use of mammography and colonoscopy. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study found that use of mammography, but not colonoscopy, increased after the ACA.
 
To determine changes in the use of mammography and colonoscopy among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries before and after the ACA’s implementation, Gregory Cooper, MD, of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and his colleagues examined Medicare claims data, identifying women ≥70 years old without mammography in the previous two years and men and women ≥70 years old at increased risk for colorectal cancer without colonoscopy in the past five years. The team also identified which patients were screened in the two-year period prior to the ACA’s implementation (2009-2010) and after its implementation (2011-September 2012). 

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